Helping Clients Get Past Blogaphobia

Enthusiasm Can Kill

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Just today I wrote an email to a potential client I met with two weeks ago. In it I wrote this phrase I know my enthusiasm can be huge. We’d gotten into a conversation about blogs and how they were changing the world.

I wish that I had read the article I found exploring later that afternoon. It’s a piece by Anil Dash at Six Apart News called How to keep blogs from scaring the hell out of people. It’s just packed with truths.

We Live Blogs

We who blog, learn blogging like folks who move to a foreign country learn a new language and culture — by immersion. The people that we talk to regularly are having the same experience as we are. They know the sense of community. They know the personal and professional growth that comes from putting things on the Internet rather than always taking things off. They know, as we do, that not every blog is a whiny diary or some sort of political flame war.

What Anil points out is that the people we meet who aren’t blogging have heard the stories without benefit our experiences. Pick the wrong example and we can scare the pants off the exact people we’re trying to invite.

Anil’s Advice

Anil offers a few pointers to keep in mind when we’re talking to a possible blogaphobic — someone who believes that blogs might not be a good thing.

  • Blogs are technology that is tested, tried, and true.
  • Blogs integrate well with existing technology.
  • Blogs are as mobile as a cell phone and used around the world.
  • Blogs can start small and grow as comfort levels grow.

Whether it’s your boss, a new client, or a member of your family, a thoughtful approach is going to go a long way to easing phobias and giving your conversation a chance.

My Client

I’m lucky. I know the man I was speaking to has lots of room to think and doesn’t scare easily. I’ll approach him again, show him a few blogs — one by a Fortune 500 company CEO, Jonathan Schwartz of SunMicrosystems,, one by a modern philosopher, Oleg Koefoed,, and a post I wrote about first graders Ms. Cassidy’s first grade class.

Then maybe we’ll talk about what other companies are doing with internal blogs to improve communication. My client knows a technology worth exploring when he sees it.

How do you ease customer fears about blogging?

–ME “Liz” Strauss

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  1. says

    Just yesterday I consulted, over dinner, with someone who wants to help businesses blog ( locally ).

    He has the same questions you have.

    Here’s part of what I told him –

    Some will, some won’t, so what, so who’s next ?

    It’s a numbers game, not a convincing game.

    Don’t try to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

    From Jack Hayhow – Wisdom of the Flying Pig. Great read, great advice.

    You only need one person to listen and accept your offer. Every ” No ” is to be celebrated, because it gets you closer to your first ” Yes ! “.

    Don’t accelerate your convincing, accelerate your asking.

    The perfect client will be the one who says, ” OMG ! I’ve been looking for someone to help me with this ! ” – not the one who wavers, waffles and waits.

    Keep it up, it’ll work.

  2. says

    Hi Mike,
    What great advice — all of it. Thank you. You’re right and I love every quote that you used to make your points.

    It’s an invitation not an act of persuasion.

    Great advice. Like I said.

    You’re a wise one. This is a post in and of itself.

  3. says

    Hope I helped.

    I’ve spent a couple of decades leaning all of that the hard way. Read a lot of advice that I implemented almost overnite….well, over way too many nites…no, really I didn’t listen and learned the hard way, way to slow and painfully.

    Nothing persuades, for when you next present this, like bullet points and benefits. The Killer B’s !

    Keep a sheet of paper handy and keep writing headlines and bullet points until you have over 100. Then write a sales letter, a long copy sales letter, and that will be your presentation for next time…given verbally and on paper if needed.

    I’ll send you the format in an email and then all you have to do is fill in the balnks under each criteria, with your unique content. There are about 10 or 11 criteria to selling ANYTHING.

    You’re gonna be a star !

  4. says

    What a great idea!
    100 featuress and benefits of anything.

    You’re best and you make me better.

    That’s one great thing about blogging right there.

  5. says

    One thing – No Features.

    Only Benefits and Bullet points.

    Bullet points are :

    The leftovers from the 100 headlines you wrote.

    Only 1 Bullet Point will end up as your headline. The others headlines are now …Bullet Points.

    FEATURES are for marketers and advertisers who haven’t a clue as to what the customer is interested in.

    They’re used to try and win awards, not to sell product.

    The customer cares about what we can do for them, NOT about the bells and whistles we think are just peachy and neat.

    Keep writing those headlines, benefits and bullet points till you have over 100. 100 is the minimum number needed before you start to organize your thoughts.

    You’ll do great…the words are on your side. They like you. They told me so.

  6. says

    I’ll be wanting to see those 100 Headlines, Benefits and Bullet Points.

    This ain’t no talk show – this is a do show .

    BTW – enthusiasm is old school. Today you have to act disinterested…or they get scared.

    Don’t know how it got this way, but it’s true.

  7. says

    I’m not absolutely certain about the enthusiasm/disinterest thing in your bullet points – I think the thing is that the general public has become desensitized to the adjective-laden “hypey” style of most commercial messages.

    Which means that taking the more ‘objective’ stance in your marketing message *may* serve to set yourself apart from your competitors. I say *may*, because the only real judge is your metrics, which returns us to the very old skool mantra of “test,test,test”, eh?

    Most of this isn’t mine, by the way. It’s a combination of Seth Godin and Gary Halbert – well, okay, the synthesizing might be mine.

  8. says

    Hi AL,
    Points well suthesized. :)

    My brand of enthusiasm is a bit over the top. I have trouble keep it in normal ranges, just because I so love good ideas. This was a problem I recognized early in my career so much so that I would often wear black and white to a meeting where I had some serious point I wanted to make clear–not for others, but to remind myself–to keep the adjectives out of the conversation.

    You’re analysis that hype–or what people see as hype–is really what kills the idea.

  9. says

    Thanks! You’re a pro writer who do this for a living, and I’m just an opinionated guy you don’t know from Adam – glad you think I’ve got the right end of the ClueStick(tm).

    I remember one piece of writing advice I think I picked up from Halbert that I’ve used a lot when doing fiction for the desk drawer, and that also seems to work for all writing in general:

    1. Sit down and write for half an hour.

    2. Cut your first paragraph.

    3. Does what you wrote still make sense?

    4 . If so, you didn’t cut enough, drop the next paragraph too.

    5. Repeat until a new reader wouldn’t understand what you’re talking about.

    6. Now, take everything you cut and summarize in one paragraph.

    I doubt that’ll work for the headline/bullet point approach, but it seems to works for my writing style since I tend to over-explain things, or not explain enough depending on the amount of caffeine in my system at the time.

    I also think that one thing that’s missing from your self-critique is that genunie, honest enthusiasm in person is infectious and very, very convincing in and of itself. Isn’t there some old saw about “If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made”?

    Since you don’t need to fake it… well, I think the only thing you need to do is to distill your enthusiasm and hit your audience with your obvious love of a project. Love is infectious in a good way, while faked enthusiasm will be seen as empty hype.

    In my Arrogant Opinion, anyway :)

  10. says

    I think what you’re on a different page on AL, is that Mike is talking about preparing for a sales call not writing. His bullet list is for self not others.

    Your comment, however, is also a great writing post.

    As far as my self-critique goes . . . I do get a bit intense for some folks. There’s just no getting past that. :)

    Thanks for the ideas of distillation and love. That’s a nice way to frame it for the next time.

  11. says

    Yeh, I think I picked up on the sales letter bits in Mike’s post – I’m rather looking forward to seeing what he’s going to think of my semi-WAG’s about how to get started on writing that sales letter or article…

  12. says

    Soory Al, there were a lot of different things going on at once and only Liz and I were aware of all the parts.

    #1 – The bullets are for her. To prepare for the interaction with the client, as the client will not give a rats patootie about features.

    #2 – the disinterested part is for during the meeting. You’ve heard the phrase Speed Kills, well, it’s the same thing in a face to face, email or other personal interaction…Enthusiasm Kills. I don’t remember when it happened, but somewhere in the past, people started to shy away from enthusiasm and now you have to exhude disinterest, or you’ll scare them away.

    This isn’t a catch-all and not for every situation, but if you start the show disinterested and move up the scale as the meeting progresses and they feel like they are the ones controlling the level, they’ll take the bait and get hooked.

    If you start out too happy and go down, they feel like you’ve lost interest in them and you’ve lost the chance to get ’em to hook themselves.

    Boils down to people want to buy, not be sold.

    Maybe that will help you understand what we weren’t saying !

  13. says

    Yeah, I see where we get our wires crossed. I write, period. For various reasons I’m not much into leaving the house, so I tend to ignore the bits that are about actually talking to people face-to-face since that isn’t something I do much of. So when I saw your posts, I started thinking in terms of sales letters, not meetings and presentations…

    One of my own mental filters I should be better at adressing, I suppose. I can see where letting your potential client perceive a rising level of engagement from you during the meeting can work out – perhaps especially if you think through the “narrative” you want for the meeting beforehand. I think I’m riffing off Seth Godin’s All Marketers are Liars, (or storytellers) here – you want to help shape the narrative of you as brand, and your company.

    Anyway, from that perspective it might be handy to look into theatrical structure for a three-act improv theatre performance, if you want to riff off Seth too and see what you can do to improve your control of the story in a live setting. But that’s as far as my current level of WAG’ing takes me, as I really don’t do face to face meetings, and it’s been years since I did improv theatre.

    So, with that in mind, what’s your professional opinion of my semi-WAG’s so far?

  14. says

    If you start out too happy and go down, they feel like you’ve lost interest in them and you’ve lost the chance to get ‘em to hook themselves.

    Boils down to people want to buy, not be sold

    WoW Those are valuable sound bytes of information. I’m making a post out of the comments in this section there.

    Thanks again, Mike. You’re a fabulouse coach.

  15. says

    Hi AL,
    My professional opinion??? My opinion is that you’re ringing true about where you’re coming from and that what you say works for a writer. I like the idea of preparing for an improv as a storyteller.

  16. says

    This can help bloggers in a tight cash-flow crunch:

    Generous George has just awarded their 30th Grant Award. Generous George, a giving organization gives out 1 award per day to needy Americans. The awards (maximum amount $1,000.00) are given to people who post their request at and are then awarded by the Generous George editorial board based on the most heartfelt story that day.

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